20 Blind Guitarists You Need To Listen To (right now!)
There have been many great guitarists over the years and the way they make the guitar sound is amazing. What’s even more amazing is just how many great blind guitarists there have been and still are performing today. Follow us as we look at some of the best blind guitarists that you need to hear at least once in your lifetime.
Norman Jeffrey Healey was a Canadian guitarist, singer and songwriter who specialised in the blues, jazz and rock. He had a unique way of playing the guitar, he laid it flat across his lap like a lap steel guitar but pressed the strings using his fingers and never used a steel like traditional lap guitarists. Jeff lost his sight when he was just a year old to a rare form of cancer.
He started playing guitar when he was 3 and at 9 he was showcased on Canadian TV’s children’s program “Cucumber”. As an adult performing with his band the Jeff Healey band in clubs around Toronto he was discovered by Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Over the years he played with many great artists including SRV, BB King, ZZ Top, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers, and many more.
Johnny Hiland is a legally blind American guitarist and singer. He started playing the guitar at the age of 2, and the electric guitar when he was 12. He worked as a session musician for the likes of Hank Williams III, Ricky Scaggs, Janie Fricke and many more. He plays bluegrass, country, blues and rock.
José Monserrate Feliciano García, best known as José Feliciano is a singer, composer and musician from Puerto Rico. His music combines many styles including blues, soul, rock, Latin, and jazz. He was born with no eyesight due to glaucoma, and was 9 when he first picked up the guitar.
Blind Willie Johnson
This blind American blues gospel singer, guitarist and evangelist had little fame during his lifetime and rose to fame mainly due to the work of Harry Smith. His Anthology of American Folk Music helped to showcase the work of artists like Johnson.
Blind Boy Fuller
Born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, United States, Fulton Allen better known as Blind Boy Fuller, began to lose his eyesight when he was a teenager. By the time he was 20 he was completely blind. He earned a living playing guitar on street corners, and then during the 1930s he was discovered by a record producer. He subsequently released 120 songs before his death in 1941.
Arthur Blake known as Blind Blake was an American ragtime and blues guitarist and singer. He was born blind in Jacksonville Florida at the end of the 19th century. He recorded around 80 songs mainly ragtime and blues.
Blind Willie McTell
Born William Samuel McTier Willie was a Piedmont blues and ragtime guitarist and singer. He played a 12 string guitar using a syncopated finger style which is common among Piedmont players. He was born blind in one eye and lost his sight in the other during his childhood.
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Lemon Henry “Blind Lemon” Jefferson, an American gospel and blues guitarist and singer/songwriter was born in 1893. He was born blind and started playing the guitar in his early teens. He taught T-Bone Walker the basics of playing the blues on guitar in exchange for Walker guiding Lemon around town etc.
Blind Joe Taggart
Joel Washington Taggart was an American gospel and country blues guitarist and singer who was recording in the 1920s and 30s. His recordings have been said to have “traces of some of the earliest blues to have ever been recorded”.
Wesseh became blind as a child and turned to playing the guitar to support his family. From Monrovia, Liberia he was self-taught and made his guitars from oil cans with strings made from bicycle cables.
Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was an American singer/songwriter and guitarist famous for recording blues, bluegrass, country, folk and gospel music. Blind from an early age, Doc performed as a solo artist and with many dance bands. He concentrated on acoustic guitar and banjo at the suggestion of the folk musicologist Ralph Rinzler during the American folk music revival in the 1960s.
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
This American guitarist born in 1989 in Los Angeles California USA is heavily influenced by Blind Lemon Jefferson and Fats Waller. He went blind as a teenager, and plays many instruments including guitar, banjo, piano, Cajun accordion, ukulele and harmonica.
Blind Joe Reynolds
Blinded by a shotgun blast to the face in the 1920s, Joe was an American singer/songwriter and blues guitarist. His blindness never prevented him playing bottleneck guitar and also becoming a sharp shooter using a pistol. He said he could judge the position of the target just by its sound. He recorded at least 8 blues songs after being discovered by talent scout H C Spiers in 1929.
This American blues and soul blues guitarist , singer and songwriter was born in Florida in 1947. He supported many artists including; Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Aaron Neville and many more. He was a professional musician by the time he left high school.
George Riley Puckett was best known as a member of the Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers band. He earned a reputation as an inspirational guitarist due to his dramatic bass runs and dynamic single string playing. He was blinded as a young child due to an incorrect eye treatment.
Blind James Campbell
Blind James Campbell was an American blues singer and guitarist who is mainly remembered for his 1962/63 recordings with his Nashville street band. An accident at a fertiliser plant left him blind he then became a full time blues musician performing folk, jazz, pop, blues and country music.
Blind Mississippi Morris
Morris Cummings better known as Blind Mississippi Morris was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1955. After catching congenital glaucoma at the age of 4 he became blind. He plays guitar, harmonica and sings mainly blues and blues rock.
Blind Arvella Gray
James Dixon known as Blind Arvella Gray was an American folk, blues and gospel guitarist and singer. From Somerville, Texas. He recorded one album and 2 singles on his own label-Gray Records.
Also known as the Braille Blues Daddy, Bryan was a fixture on Bourbon St, New Orleans from the early 80s. He lost his eyesight at the age of 8 years. From 1982 until 1996 his band and Bryan played 5 nights a week at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon St.
Paul Jerrod Pena was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist who has been writing for many years. He specialises in Tuvan Throat Singing. He wrote the song Jet Airliner which became a big hit for the Steve Miller Band.
Can You Think Of Anymore?
That’s our list of blind guitarists you need to listen to, how did we do? Are there any we’ve missed? Who would be in your top 5? Let us know in the comments.